Angèle Dubeau founded La Pietà in 1997, an all-female string ensemble featuring some of Canada’s best musicians. What she could not have known at the time was that this experiment, originally [...]
They spoke about it
Gently and soothingly, violinist Angèle Dubeau along with her string and piano ensemble La Pietà, lead us into reverie. Enchanting melodies such as the Devil’s Beauties by Dompierre, Princesse Mononoke and Summer by Hisaishi, The Mission by Morricone, Spiegel im Spiegel by Pärt will sweep you away.
Today, as in yesteryear, fairy tales continue to inhabit our imaginations. With their origins in age-old myths, they were first transmitted orally. The French author Charles Perrault transformed these secular stories into a new literary genre. The Brothers Grimm, Lewis Caroll, Hans Christian Andersen and many others helped legitimize the genre.
Composers also adapted the magical world of the fairy tale for their own purposes. Taking inspiration from sonnets, story fragments, and human sensation, Antonio Vivaldi was a master at creating atmosphere. Music can convey anything: the vagaries of nature, a shepherd’s slumber, a meeting between two people, the birth of amorous feeling. Several centuries later, Manuel de Falla and Joaquin Rodrigo would draw upon the fertile ground of Spanish folklore, taking from it both engaging imagery and unbridled passion.
Closer to home, composers of movie music make particular use of the fairy-tale world, with its structural features such as quests, multiple setbacks and triumph over oneself. The Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi has dipped into this universe on several occasions, especially for the soundtracks of Princess Mononoke, Kikujiro and “Fragile Dream,” arranged especially for Dubeau and La Pietà. Incidentally, Angèle Dubeau is the only musician outside Japan authorized to play Hisaishi’s work, whether on stage or recorded.
Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone, giants of the genre, have composed many unforgettable soundtracks that help extend the cinematic world beyond the mere image. In Quebec, François Dompierre, a master of musical colour, composed the soundtrack to L’Odyssée d’Alice Tremblay (and its excerpt “A Fairy Tale”). His work also includes the mesmerizing Les beautés du Diable, composed especially for La Pietà. Gently and serenely, Gilles Ouellet‘s Berceuse pour Angèle (composed for Dubeau) and Arvo Pärt‘s Spiegel im spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror) lead us into reverie—a land of magic wands, of dreams and of sometimes naughty children.
Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom, a king and queen wished long and fervently for a child. When at last a beautiful princess was born, a sumptuous banquet was organized to mark the event. Kings and princes came from far and wide to bestow upon the princess Violina fabulous playthings, exotic animals as pets, and rare books.
The child’s fairy godmother, Euterpe, was among the first guests to be introduced. With her magic wand, she touched the girl behind the ear, leaving a strange mark in the shape of a violin. She also gave Violina two presents: a golden bow inlaid with precious stones and strung with angel hair, and a magic painting. If one gazed at it long enough, the young women in the painting would begin to play sweet melodies, creating a dreamlike state.
Violina grew up beautiful and wise. She loved to read fantastic stories, care for the animals in her menagerie and, above all, gaze at her magic painting. She felt wonder at all the new music she heard, whether it came from Spain, Italy, France, Estonia, the Orient, the United States, or Quebec, places she loved to find on her map of the world. And she learned to pronounce without hesitation names such as Chopin, de Falla, Dompierre, Hisaishi, Morricone, Ouellet, Pärt, Rodrigo, and Vivaldi.
© Lucie Renaud
Translation: Peter Christensen
Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà
Soloist, artistic director: Angèle Dubeau
First violin: Natalia Kononova
Second violins: Andra Giugariu, Josiane Breault
Violas: Martine Gagné, Bojana Milinov
Cello: Annie Gadbois
Double bass: Mariane Charlebois-Deschamps
Piano: Louise-Andrée Baril